Can Yara Shahidi And Malone Souliers Save Ungaro?
The house of Emanuel Ungaro has had more fashion lives than Karl Lagerfeld’s cat.
Its namesake founder was tutored by Balenciaga before setting up one of French fashion’s most admired couture houses in 1965. He retired, 30 years later, selling the brand in 2005. Since then it’s been on a white knuckle ride of reboots, designer exits and failed reinvention. In 2010, the then owners installed Lindsay Lohan as creative director, hoping her paparazzi pleasing antics would generate sales. They didn’t. Instead the house suffered a credibility hemorrhage that it is only just beginning to recover from.
Giles Deacon succeeded Lohan lasting less than 18 months after which the label limped along without a creative director. Most recently, Italian showman, Fausto Puglisi was in charge followed by Dolce alumnus Marco Colagrissi who joined the company last year and has already left. The man hoping to transform Ungaro into a fashion force again is its new CEO Roy Luwolt, who founded designer shoe brand Malone Souliers. Luwolt joined the label in November 2017 and brought with him a bold new
Ungaro would become a contemporary priced brand, playing on its glamorous couture past but pitched firmly at a generation too young to remember the perfumed Ungaro glamour of yesteryear. “It’s a serious business revamp,” he said at a chic dinner in New York with Yara Shahidi as his special guest – the Grown-ish star was dressed in a playful Ungaro blouse and miniskirt. Ungaro in its grand, couture house incarnation, “would never have dressed a girl as young and vital as she is,” said Luwolt gesturing to Shahidi. “It’s as vibrant as I want to be,” said the young star of her outfit adding that the label met her most important fashion criteria: “If I can’t dance in an outfit, I don’t want to wear it.” Looking fresh, fun and super beautiful, the actress and activist also nixed those “Yara for president” rumours started by none other than Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve decided on politics adjacent – next to Capitol Hill but not on it,” she said.
Yara and her cohort of confident young women are exactly the new audience Luwolt hopes to please with Ungaro. “Those young women have no memory of Ungaro so we can introduce it to them.” To achieve that goal he promises a total reset, with a strong emphasis on accessories the fruits of which are hitting stores now.
A new collaboration with his shoe brand Malone Souliers launches on Matchesfashion.com today. Inspired by Ungaro’s archive of sporty and striped cocktail dresses, the shoes are frothy, feminine, with plenty of playful spike heeled sass.